Thanks so much for being part of our Radical Exemptions Series.
This week, I shared some thoughts I had about this article. I couldn’t shut off this idea:
“The truth is, we don’t get temporary leave from following Jesus’ call when we have life changing events like going off to college, or starting a new job, or getting married, or even having children. Our family status doesn’t interrupt or exempt our calling, although, it might impact the scope and reach of our calling.”
Knowing I can’t speak from experience about following Jesus with children, I asked some of my friends who have children to share how they are following Jesus.
On Tuesday, we heard from Ruth who lives in Asia, who was honest about the fact that even though she is living a life many of us would see as radical from this side of the ocean, that she battles monotony and intentionality in her life. She shared some practical ways that she fights the battle of the routine.
“If you ask God to show you openings in your life, he will. Just be prepared: it probably won’t be comfortable and orderly and fit nicely into your schedule.”
On Wednesday, we heard from Molly, who lives in smallish town Alabama, who talked about creating a Kingdom-Minded Family. She gave great Scriptural background to how she and her husband are raising their children and using their homes and regular lives to point others to Jesus.
“The Gospel is the only antidote to my selfish cravings to live to please myself. And the more I am consumed by the Gospel, the less radical Christ’s commands actually seem.”
On Thursday, we heard from Jon and Jan, who live in an intentional community in San Diego. They shared about how they are raising their daughters to be global citizens that are kingdom-minded – for the whole kingdom of God, not just the American Kingdom. They gave some practical ideas of how they are doing that.
“We quickly realized that the very best gift we could give our children is to live the kind of life we would desire them to live as faithful followers of Jesus”
And on Friday, we heard from Shannon, who lives in suburban Northern California. She talked about being a faithful Christ-follower with a growing family. She shared about their adoption story, and the fear she confronted with saying “yes” to God. She also shared about how her goal is to remember her main purpose in the midst of everyday life with four children.
“I am grateful I didn’t let fear stop God’s plan.”
As I read my friends’ stories this week, I was struck with a lot of thoughts:
1. I have some amazing friends, who inspire and challenge me daily. And you didn’t even get to hear from most of them. I’m so thankful for the remarkable people God has placed in my life. Thank you for being amazing!
2. Being radical doesn’t always look all that radical. Not all of us are missionaries, and even those of us that are have very normal aspects to our lives. Being radical looks like visiting widows down the street, and opening our homes to college students who want a homecooked meal, and giving up “me time” to call a friend who is hurting. Being radical looks like sacrificing our entertainment budget to help friends adopt a child, or going on a mission trip rather than a vacation, or inviting the homeless woman we pass on the street over for coffee. Most people will never know about our stories of complete radical following of Jesus, and that’s ok. Sometimes that’s what makes it radical.
3. Raising children who know what it really costs to follow Jesus requires intention. And I see so many friends doing this beautifully! It happens during nighttime prayers when you pray for children in other parts of the world. It happens when you play at a playground in a different part of town where the moms and dads and kids have a different skin color than you. It happens when you get wild and decide to take your two children under the age of four on a mission trip to Africa with you. It happens when you let your children stay in the room when you and your friends are struggling through scriptures and sharing how you’re grappling with the hard stuff.
4. All of us, parents or not, need reminders sometimes to give God our everyday ordinary lives and do something different with them. We need to be reminded to ask, “Am I where you want me to be?” “Am I serving how you want me to serve?” “Who have you placed in my life that I can love well?” Sometimes that’s our kids, or our partner, or our neighbor, or a child in India, or our pastor, or our child’s teacher, or that annoying coworker, or the homeless man down the road… There’s so much potential in our everyday lives, let’s be open to God.
I’ll leave you with the verse we started with (Romans 12:1)“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”